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Commerce Matters: Do the right thing and vote – once and with vigor (Voices)

Ann Silver

Commerce Matters

Ann Silver is CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.
Courtesy photo

When my grandmother was called upon to change her role from homemaker to factory worker during World War II, she never hesitated to put down her broom and pick up a wrench.

She viewed her new job as a patriotic obligation in exchange for the privileges she enjoyed in this country. Given we’re in a significant election year, it’s alarming how many eligible voters are debating how they will exercise this most important American activity.

There’s way too much hostile dialogue about this year’s voting process and whether or not we can ensure our safety and the safety of others while we exercise this most sacred right of citizenry.

It’s hard to imagine a time when our fellow citizens were barred from voting for reasons of color and gender, and our children and grandchildren can’t imagine the battle scars borne by those denied a place in the voting booth. The world is now too small and too complex to allow our constitutional right to dissolve in this pandemonium of distrust.

This pandemic has created more uncivil discourse than imagined, and rather than unifying us in purpose, it’s cast a pall beyond what already exists on a COVID-19 hospital ward or in the beds of the dying. Instead, we’ve found new ways to express our discontent and contempt for others based on how, why, when and where we should vote.

There’s talk of ballot “harvesting” and fraud and double voting, none of which should be dismissed as impossibilities. Therefore, it’s incumbent on every citizen registered to vote to do so with humility, respect and integrity.

If we can’t rely on our fellow citizens to pursue voting with honesty and the best of intentions, we have no reason to believe in our democracy or what we consider to be the greatest country on earth.

I can’t imagine my grandmother resisting the call to duty or sending churlish emails and texts chiding those who want nothing more than to mail in their ballots from the safety of their homes.

She didn’t want a war, but she worked valiantly alongside strangers and those of different colors, religions, ethnic backgrounds, ages and abilities to do what was right and what was needed.

Her tenacity in the face of the potential loss of family members, friends and neighbors was enough to get her up at 3:30 a.m. and walk miles to a factory; a place she didn’t know and would have never seen were it not for a war and a call to action.

Consider masking up and volunteering to drive an elderly individual to a polling site or ensuring those eligible in your household complete a ballot and understand why our citizen freedom depends on the act of voting.

Let’s make this election cycle our own call to action regardless of political affiliation. Let’s set examples for younger generations so they might see what wars and pandemics teach us: We’re in this together and we won’t give up the fight.

Do the right thing and vote by whatever means possible. Vote once, vote with vigor, and vote like our country depends on you to do so.

“Commerce Matters” is a monthly Voices column in the NNBW authored by Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Reach her for comment at asilver@thechambernv.org.